According to the 2000 census, 2.3% of nation's lawyers are Asian Ams, 4% blacks, and 2.9% Hispanics. That was 9 years ago, by now the guesstimate is that there are about equal %s of Asian/black/Hispanic lawyers, while the general population ratio is about 1/3/3.
However, there is a huge difference in the %s of federal judges -1% Asian Ams, 10.7% African-Ams, & 6.5% Hispanics . All Asian Am judges are at the lowest federal Court level (District), not a single one at the Appeals Court level, not to mention the Supreme court level. Why is our portion so small and rank so low, not that the other minorities' portions are too large or too high?
Why? Why? Why?
Could it be that Asian Am lawyers are NOT interested in becoming federal judges? NO. 80-20 started an Asian Am. Judicial Talent Bank this year for ones interested in federal judgeships. Many very qualified Asian American jurists poured in to join. So "no interest" is a myth!
Then again: Why so few & none in the higher ranks?Lack of Group Clout Hurting Asian Am. Lawyers
Asian Am. lawyers told me that the paucity of Asian Am. judges has hurt their business and personal pride. When I asked, "how so?" a composite answer is as follows:
"The American public looks for lawyers who are capable of securing a client's equal opportunity and/or rights. If the public knows that we, the Asian American lawyers as a group, can't even secure our own equal opportunity to be federal judges,will they still seek us out to represent them?"
"What makes it hurt so much is that many of us went to nation's first-tier law schools; plenty of us graduated Summa Cum Laude or were editors of law reviews. The public probably will not doubt our book knowledge. But how do our potential client view our willingness to fight injustice and our effectiveness, if we don't even fight injustice against ourselves successfully? Why do you think many Americans prefer Jewish lawyers? Our group image hurts my business & pride."
80-20 likes to help remedy the sad & humiliating situation quickly. That is why it worked so hard to get Pres. Obama's iron-clad commitment to appoint more Asian Am district and Appeals Court judges. See Q4 to Q6 in the picture.
Speak Up & Act, Asian Am Lawyers
Besides speaking up, you can also support NAPABA (Nat'l Asian Pacific Am. Bar Assoc.) which has existed for 20 years. You may also urge it to represent you with more gusto, if warranted.80-20 has proposed to work with NAPABA to remedy this sad situation many times, before and after Pres. Obama's reply to our questionnaire. The combined force will have more clout. NAPABA can be the leader, 80-20 offered.
A few months ago, Pres. Obama asked the senior senators of his party to nominate 3 names for each of the about 50 vacancies in federal District judgeship that covers the senator's state. 80-20 had proposed to NAPABA to jointly urge these senators to nominate qualified Asian Am lawyers.
Weeks passed, NAPABA has not agreed, while many senators have already submitted their lists of nominees. Consequently, with apologies to NAPABA, 80-20 will reluctantly send letters on its own for now, but still welcomes NAPABA to join us later.
Forward this e-newsletter to your Asian Am. lawyer friends. TOGETHER, we shall overcome -- a point that is not yet understood by enough Asian Ams.
To join 80-20, go http://www.80-20initiative.net and click on the red button "JOIN 80-20." Or send a check to 80-20 PAC, PO Box 22509, Philadelphia, PA 19110. The dues of NEW member is matched up to $3,500.
S. B. Woo
Acting Exec. Director (a volunteer), 80-20 PAC, Inc.